- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2011

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — The last of 20 students accused in a college entrance exam cheating ring in an affluent New York suburb surrendered to authorities Monday.

Michael Pomerantz, 18, and an unidentified teenager turned themselves into Nassau County prosecutors before being taken to district court for arraignment. Mr. Pomerantz is one of five current or former students at Great Neck-area public and private high schools charged with accepting payments of between $500 and $3,600 to impersonate other students on SAT and ACT college entrance exams.

A longtime critic of the testing system notes that Nassau County is one of the few municipalities to file criminal charges in a school cheating scandal.

Mr. Pomerantz was facing felony charges including scheming to defraud, falsifying business records and criminal impersonation. He pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. His next court date was scheduled for Jan. 5.

Mr. Pomerantz and the other four face up to four years in prison if convicted.

Fifteen other students, including one who surrendered Monday, are facing undisclosed misdemeanor charges for having others stand in for them and take the college exams. Prosecutors say they are barred from identifying those 15 because they are being prosecuted as juveniles. Authorities say they can’t even contact the students’ colleges to inform them of the cheating allegations because of privacy laws.

A spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that the case against Samuel Eshaghoff, 19, the first of the five students arrested as alleged impostors, was postponed Monday pending a possible grand jury investigation. The spokesman, John Byrne, would not elaborate.

Mr. Eshaghoff, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, has pleaded not guilty.

The scandal, which erupted in September, has prompted a review by a state Senate subcommittee on higher education. The panel held a hearing last month where it received assurances from the College Board and Educational Testing Service that a review of security procedures surrounding the tests was under way.

The ETS, which administers the SAT on behalf of the Princeton, N.J.-based College Board, said former FBI Director Louis Freeh has been retained to offer recommendations on enhanced security. There was no indication on when recommendations would be made.

Bernard Kaplan, principal at Great Neck North High School, is among those suggesting that digital photographs of each student be taken when they arrive to take the exams. Great Neck North is where the scandal first surfaced in the spring after faculty members looked into rumors that students had paid someone to take the SAT for them.

Authorities were particularly dubious after hearing that Mr. Eshaghoff allegedly stood in for a female student on one of the exams.

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